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The Daily



09-10-03: Celina customers to see short-term surge in utility costs


Celina Utilities customers inside and outside the city will be paying an estimated 15 percent more temporarily as the utility seeks to change its billing cycles and eliminate the current delayed payment schedule.
Jeff Hazel, the city’s director of administrative services, told city council members about his plans during this week’s regular meeting. Hazel said he hopes the change will allow the city to get a handle on uncollectible debts that can mount because of the delayed billing procedure.
From June 2002 through June 2003, the city rang up $156,000 in bad debts, Hazel said. Much of the debt can be attributed to transient residents who might live here only a short time before skipping out on their utility bill, he said. Changing the billing cycle could reduce that amount by 40 percent or more, he said.
A new utility customer who signs up for service under the current setup would not see a bill for nearly two months, Hazel said. That means every single utility customer is behind about that much in payments.
Hazel plans to pro-rate the portion every customer needs to pay to get current over a six-month period and add it to the monthly bills. The temporary increase would amount to about 15 percent for most customers, he said. For example, someone who pays $120 monthly would see an increase of about $20 monthly for six months. Billing would then return to normal under a new procedure to keep payments current.
“It will affect everybody,” Hazel said.
Hazel said he hopes to implement the plan soon so the higher bills come during the winter months when utilities usage is lowest. By the time the summer cooling season rolls around, the bills would be back to normal, he said.
To keep payments current, Hazel has proposed a twice monthly billing cycle, although residents still would get only one bill per month. Half of the city would be billed during one cycle and the other half two weeks later. Doing so would help streamline the utilities office and make it more efficient, Hazel said.
The new billing procedure would mean residents would get a bill within about five days of the monthly meter reading.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822